My Top 50 Video Games
I thought it might be a fun idea to create a Top 50 list of my favorite games. Going forward I'll be keeping the list updated, albeit over at my Grouvee account. If I play a game I feel is better than, say, the last 5 games on the list it’ll be placed in the 45th slot with whatever is in the 50th slot being dropped off.
It should be noted that this list is very personal. Games included on the list and their placement isn’t about how good a game they are critically, but how much I enjoy them/ what they mean to me personally.
Now, without further ado, here’s the list.
Entries 50 - 41
50. Street Fighter II: Championship Edition
This game was my and my friends’ obsession during our early teenage years. We’d go around each others houses and have little tournaments with league tables and everything! It’s the only fighter I’ve poured hours and hours into and although I’ve tried Street Fighter games that have released since, none of them really captured me like this did on the Mega Drive. For me, SFII:CE is a game cemented in a specific time and at a specific age when a bunch of geeky friends bonded over smacking each other in the face, albeit digitally.
49. Ghostbusters (Master System)
The first game I owned for my first console, the Sega Master System, this version is an upgraded of David Crane’s original Commodore 64 version. While probably a bit naff by today’s standards, it still managed to fulfill my 5-year-old desire to be a real Ghostbuster. Busting ghosts was satisfying and I lived in fear of the Marshmallow Man destroying a building and losing all my money. The last two levels may be unfairly difficult, but the journey to them is a huge lot of fun!
48. Prince of Persia (PC)
More than any other game on this list, this one was hard to place. Eventually, I settled on the 49th slot because it’s not a game I’ve really ever returned to. However, it was a game that blew me away when I first saw it, but I feel other games have surpassed it since. Still, it’s importance to gaming, gaming animation and the platforming genre cannot be understated.
47. Resident Evil Code: Veronica (Dreamcast)
Resident Evil is one of those hugely popular franchises that I’ve not played a great deal of. However, I was very aware of the series so when Code: Veronica was announced for the Dreamcast and was boasted as the best RE yet, obviously I had to snap it up. My first experience of not only RE but also survival horror, it was a game that totally gripped me. I played it for the first time at night after my parents had gone to bed. I lived on a farm, so it was a perfect setting. The fear was real and I loved it! Visually it looks amazing today, even if the gameplay hasn’t aged all that well, especially in regards to controls. Still totally well worth playing, however.
46. Flashback (Mega Drive)
Like Prince of Persia before it, Flashback really pushed what was possible in regards to animation in video games. Feeling almost like an animated film at times, the story of lost identity and alien conspiracy is a great one. While not exactly a platforming game, movement throughout the game’s environment is smooth and fluid. The combat is a little clunky and there is the chance toward the end of the game to totally screw up and have to start over, but for the first time you play through it, it is incredibly satisfying.
45. Rocket Knight Adventures (Mega Drive)
Rocket Knight Adventures is just fun! It’s just simple, joyous, colourful platforming fun. Not especially challenging but with buckets of charm, RKA is one of the games I remember most fondly from the 16-bit days. Full of humour with some really inventive boss fights (huge robot boxing match, anyone?) it’s a game that is impossible to play without a smile on your face.
44. Crazy Taxi (Dreamcast)
Even though Sega knew that the Dreamcast would be make-or-break for them, they still weren’t afraid to try weird and wonderful ideas, and Crazy Taxi is one of the best! An insane combination of racer and stunt driver, Crazy Taxi saw you speeding headlong into incoming traffic, jumping over bridges, handbrake turning like loon and recreating the Blues Brothers shopping mall scene in order to get your fare to their destination as fast as possibly. Absolutely crazy fun!
43. House of the Dead 2 (Dreamcast)
The first game I bought for the Dreamcast (because they were sold out of Sonic Adventure) this was my first at-home light-gun game, and MAN did I love it! Blasting away at zombies was so much fun, and the terrible B-movie dialogue just clinched it as a classic. My dad, who is in no way a gamer, actually really liked playing this with me so I’ve very fond memories of he and I shooting up the undead. It’s such a shame the light gun doesn’t work on modern TVs as I’d love to return for another blast.
42. Asterix (Master System)
Much like Rocket Knight Adventures, Asterix is just fun! It’s very faithful to the source material and has a wonderful closing level. It was also one of the very first games I ever played and I still return to it from time to time. It’s worth it just for the ridiculously cute Dogmatix bonus levels!
41. Alisia Dragoon (Mega Drive)
I didn’t discover Alisia Dragoon until the early 2000s when it came in a batch-lot of games I bought off eBay. I was after others in the batch but figured I’d give Alisia a go. So glad I did as it’s become one of my favorites. At first seeming like a fairly standard fantasy platformer, the difference here is that you are accompanied by three dragon companions each with different abilities. Figuring out when to call on each dragon is really fun, especially when you’ve leveled them up a bit. It’s a tough game, so I’ve never actually seen the end, but the fun gameplay, great visuals and awesome music keeps me coming back!
Entries 40 - 31
40. Phantom 2040 (Mega Drive)
This was another game that was hard to place. If you’ve followed my blog for long you’ll know I’m a huge Phantom fan and that Phantom 2040 is my favorite spin-off franchise. Honestly, I adore this game, but it isn’t perfect. Getting a good ending is extremely difficult and depending on which version you play it can be really hard to know what to do. But for all its flaws it has some wonderful points. It’s one of the earliest games to have player decisions matter and it’s huge levels are great to explore. It’s also based on my favorite comic hero, so that helps.
39. Spider-Man (2000 – PC)
2000’s Spider-Man is one of my favorite comic book based games. From Stan Lee’s narration to the optional What If? mode, to comics being collectables that give insights into Spidey’s past; the game reads like a love letter to Marvel’s most famous hero. While it feels dated both graphically and gameplay wise today, for Spider-Man fans it is well worth checking out.
38. Zombie Night Terror (PC)
Easily one of the most original and best puzzle games I’ve played, ZNT flips the zombie cliche on its head in that rather than trying to save people from zombies, you’re actively infecting them to grow your horde of undead. Somewhat akin to Lemmings, you have to guide your zombies through various locations without them being killed before they can infect the hapless humans. With a host of zombie abilities to play around with and heaps of humour and pop culture references, it’s a hell of a lot of fun. I really wish they’d release some new levels for this game!
37. Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes (DS)
This DS installment of the long running series takes the basic elements of a match-three game, a decent amount of strategy and combines it all into one nifty, accessible and very fun package. While it can be easy to pass off a handheld version of a series that’s been established on a more powerful platform as “less than,” Clash of Heroes is not trying to do what previous M&M titles have. Instead, it’s its own thing and makes for a wonderful puzzle/ strategy title that will test most minds. While the DS version is probably the weakest of the lot in terms of graphics and animation (the game is also available on PC, Android and iOS), none of the gameplay depth is lost. I spent hours on this the first time through and have returned to it several times. A definite favorite.
36. River City Girls (XBox One)
I posted my thoughts on River City Girls previously, so check that out if you want the low down. Needles to say, it’s one of the best and most enjoyable beat ‘em ups I’ve played!
35. Streets of Rage (Mega Drive)
One of the best beat ‘em ups ever made, surpassed only by its sequel, the original Streets of Rage is a hugely satisfying game. With all three characters playing very differently and plenty of challenge this is a title fans still play to this day. It may not have been the first beat ‘em up, but it set the standard for the time.
34. Dishonoured (PC)
Admittedly, I was not as enamored with the first Dishonoured as many were. It’s fun, sure. It’s cool, most certainly. But game of the year material? Mmmmaybe not. Having said that though, it certainly was a good time exploring the cities of Dunwall and sneaking around taking out enemies. I still revisit it now when I feel like a bit of stabby-stabby action.
32. realMyst: Masterpiece Edition (PC)
Myst is one of those games that people either love or just don’t get. It’s something of the antithesis of the popular modern video game with it’s slow, contemplative pace, the way the player must figure out everything from puzzle solutions to the story line themselves and complete lack of video game staples such as an inventory. But it’s not a “casual game” either. It’s gaming at its purist. If you allow it, Myst will immerse you in fantastical world of beautiful vistas and mind-bending conundrums and this beautiful re-(re-re)release made from the ground up in realtime 3D will enchant you even more.
31. Shantae: Half Genie Hero (2016 - XBox One)
Another game that’s just a really good time, I’ve played all the Shantae titles but this “soft reboot” from 2016 is easily the best. Sticking to its 2D roots and not trying to reinvent anything, it’s full of great platforming action, a bit of fan service and a lot of humour. The various animal transformations Shantae uses are all really great and it’s fun experimenting with them. The graphics and music are wonderful as well. I can proudly say I was one of the fans who backed this on Kickstarter.
Entries 30 - 21
30. Dishonoured 2
Now this one I really enjoyed! While the first Dishnoured left me a little cold, I found the sequel to be everything I’d hoped the original would be. All the combat has been tightened up and the environments are a joy to explore. I’ve only played through as Emily so far, but not being able to rely on the familiar set of powers from the first game was a fun challenge. I also felt this one let you tailor your style a bit more; while the first game almost forced you to go stealthy, here you can easily blast your way through a room only to slip into the shadows to quietly take out the stragglers.
29. Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor (Xbox One)
Any game that lets me explore Tolkien’s world is instantly of interest, and Shadow of Mordor does it in wonderful fashion. With a huge game world to explore and some of the best combat this side of the Arkham series, there is a lot to like here. The star, of course, is the Nemesis System. Having Orcs taunt you and come back to take you out if you manage to defeat them once is wonderful. It leads to real personality from characters who are too often just two dimensional fodder in most games. It also doesn’t feel anywhere near as grindy as its sequel.
28. Rayman Legends (Xbox One)
The seemingly simple gameplay of Rayman Legends hides away a devilishly tricky game once you look past the “main” goal of completing the last level. When you start looking into the “extra” challenges – which I believe are the real heart of the game – such as collecting every Lum in a level or beating a runthrough time, you really see the game shine. What seemed simple reveals itself to be incredibly intricate level design. Perfect platform and enemy positioning and a beautiful flow of gameplay that calls for quick reflexes but never feels cheap ensures making the perfect run in any of the game’s levels is an amazing and hugely satisfying feat. Add to this the beautiful hand-animated graphics and the amazing music-themed levels and you have easily one of the best platforming games ever!
27. Doom (1993, PC)
The original Doom really is a masterpiece. It’s all about the visceral feel of blowing demons away with a shotgun and generally being a badass. And man is it satisfying! While there had been FPS games before, like id’s own Wolfenstein 3D, nothing could compare to Doom. The crunch of the weapons, the screams of dying enemies and the background grind of the metal-infused soundtrack even today feels brutal and guttural.
26. Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag (Xbox One)
The only other Assassin’s Creed game I’d played before this was the first one, and that was okay, but not amazing. Black Flag I actually won through a magazine competition (along with Unity) so it didn’t cost me at all. However, I would happily part with my money for it as it’s an amazing game! It’s so full of things to do, amazing places to explore, people to assassinate and, of course, seas to sail. The sailing is by far the highlight of the game, but everything else is so much fun as well. One of the first games I played after my “break” from console gaming when moving from Australia to the UK, there was no better game to get me back into it.
25. Sonic Generations (PC)
This game could be much higher on the list; the only reason it’s in the 25th spot is that it is basically a “re-imagining” rather than original content. But oh man, what a re-imagining! For me this is the best 3D Sonic game, hands down! The controls of Modern Sonic are almost perfect, Classic Sonic feels spot on and the level design – chosen from among the best throughout Sonic’s history – is top notch! Even the re-mixed music is amazing. One of the few games I’ve 100%ed, I absolutely adore Sonic Generations!
24. Tomb Raider (2013 – PC)
While I’d played some of the previous Tomb Raider games at friends places, it was more through the comic series that I got to know Lara Croft. It wasn’t until later titles like Anniversary and Underground that I really started to get into the games. So, when it was announced that Tomb Raider was getting a reboot I was intrigued. What came out was a brilliant adventure game that has some absolutely wonderful moments throughout. While the non-stealth combat is a bit iffy, the exploration and set pieces are amazing.
23. Dragon Age: Inquisition (Xbox One)
While it may not reach the levels of the original, the third game in the Dragon Age series is a wonderful RPG. An amazing, beautiful world full of brilliant characters and satisfying battles, the game is a joy to play with only a few minor niggles around the edges. It really did feel like the fate of Thedas was in the palm of your hand, even if the story wasn’t given a proper ending until the Trespasser DLC.
22. Wolfenstein: The New Order (X Box One)
This, along with Forza Horizon 2, was my first game purchase when I got my XBone. A big fan of the original id Wolfenstien, the trailer and magazine articles for this new game had me excited, and it didn’t disappoint. While it would be outdone by DOOM, the visceral nature of the game, the constant switching up of weapons and the craziness of Nazi-occupied America made the game a joy to blast through. Much more satisfying that its sequel, this is easily one of the best shooters of recent years.
21. Ori and the Blind Forest (X Box One)
I’m a sucker for a good platformer, but one as beautiful as Ori stands out above the rest. While it is certainly beautiful visually, its gameplay is also a thing of wonder. Incredibly smooth, challenging but not unfair and with an emphasis on exploration, Ori and the Blind Forest is an absolutely wonderful game for those that enjoy high quality 2D platforming. Can’t wait for the sequel!
Entries 20 - 11
20. Batman: Arkham Asylum (PC)
The game on which all future comic book-based games would be judged, not only did Arkham Asylum create one of the biggest video game franchises of the last decade, but it brought much innovation with it. The amazing reactive combat system made the flow of battles feel smoother than ever before with skilled players being able to create a beautiful dance of fists and blood. It was able to examine the character of Batman and his relationship with the Joker in ways that hadn’t, until that point, been seen outside the comic book page. While it may not have had appearances by some fan-favorite characters, notably Catwoman, and the world may not be as grand as future entries in the series, the smaller scope of the first game allows the characters and environment to truly shine. A must-play for gamers everywhere!
19. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (Mega Drive)
Many consider Sonic 2 to be the best of the Hedgehog’s 2D outings, at least until the arrival of Sonic Mania. Personally, I prefer others in the 2D canon over this (we’ll get to those) but there is no denying this is a brilliant game. The sheer speed, the tight platforming and the awesome music all come together to make an almost perfect game. It was this title that cemented Sonic as a video game icon, and for that it has to be recognized!
18. Prince of Persia: Sands of Time (PC)
The Prince of Persia franchise had lain dormant since 1999’s less than stellar Prince of Persia 3D. When it was finally reinvigorated in 2003 it was done so in the best way possible. Original creator Jordan Mechner was back as designer and he wasn’t planning on simply copying the formula that worked all the way back in 1989. No, Sands of Time brought the Prince up-to-date with modern gaming expectations while keeping all the essential elements fans had come to love the series for; traps, acrobatic platforming and sword fights. However, where the game really shone was its combat, which was something of a precursor to the Arkham series combat system, and the Rewind ability. The ability to rewind gameplay for a brief time to get players out of trouble is something of a staple now, but in 2003 it was brand new. Not only did the Rewind get you out of trouble, but it was needed to solve some of the games puzzles. A landmark game, it is not without reason it is now considered one of the best games ever made by critics and fans alike.
17. Pokemon Red/ Blue (Game Boy)
To get this out of the way; I have the Red version of the first Pokemon. I don’t really need to tell you how big and important Pokemon is. However, the reason it’s on this list is that it was the first proper RPG I had ever played and as such introduced me to a whole new genre of games. Managing each of my Pokemon, exploring such a huge world, experimenting with the various items, it was all fascinating. While recent Pokemon games haven’t grabbed me in the same way, the impact Pokemon Red had was huge. To this day can’t go into a cave for fear of Zubats.
16. Broken Sword: the Shadow of the Templars - Director’s Cut (DS)
Why there weren’t more SCUMM-powered games ported/ made for the DS family of consoles I’ll never know. It is the perfect platform for them! Anyway, Broken Sword on the DS, which is the Director’s Cut version of the game, was my first experience of a SCUMM game. Already a fan of puzzle games thanks to Myst and Lemmings, this was something rather different to either of those two. While still point-and-click (or point-and-tap?), the dialogue choices, puzzles and intricate story were quite different and very impressive, as was the amazing animation. An absolutely wonderful game that is a pure joy for those who enjoy nutting out problems.
15. Skies of Arcadia (Dreamcast)
Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag was not the first game to let you sail around the world in your own ship. Year’s before Ubisoft’s game Skies of Arcadia had us firing our cannons at enemy warships...except in the sky, not on water. Yep, flying sailing ships! Not only one of the best-reviewed games to see release on the Dreamcast, but one of the best games period, it was criminally underlooked upon release. Taking control of Sky Pirate Vyse, players were able to explore a huge world in their flying ship, battling the forces of the evil Valuan Empire as well as a slew of monsters. Turn-based battles can occur in the air against other ships, or with more “regular” enemies when docked at a city and exploring on foot. Strategy in battle is heightened by weapons and attacks being powered by different coloured Moon Stones, with certain coloured attacks strong against certain enemies and weak against others. Like many RPGs, the map is blank at the start of the game and expands as you explore. There are even uncharted secret islands to find. There is just so much to see and do in Skies of Arcadia, you can easily pour hours and hours into it. Not only is the gameplay solid, but the story is one of the best! Only ever ported to the Game Cube, the only way to play Skies of Arcadia now is with original hardware or via emulation. More than any other game, Skies is truly deserving of a re-release!
14. Lemmings (PC)
Arguably the greatest puzzle game ever made, Lemmings is a gamer’s game. Anyone who grew up in the 90’s will have experienced this game at some point. The object of the game is to guide a hapless tribe of Lemmings from the level entry to its exit with a certain number surviving. To make this tricky, the little guys have to contend with cliffs, water, larva, various traps and a ticking clock. The Lemmings can be given abilities to overcome these obstacles, but these come with a limited amount of uses. Ranging from fun to pull-your-hair-out maddening, Lemmings’ levels will test even the sharpest of minds. If you’ve never played Lemmings there are heaps and heaps of options for you to do so, such as fan remakes of the original game or the new (but not very good) Android/ iOS re-boot.
13. Uru: Ages Beyond Myst (PC)
If we’re being technically-minded, Uru: Ages Beyond Myst should not be on this list. It certainly should not be in the top 20. It’s a wonky, somewhat cumbersome game that doesn’t manage to do what it sets out to and does not progress gaming in any significant way, apart from maybe a focus on stunningly beautiful environments. And yet, here it is. So why? Well, the Myst series if one of my favorites and Uru is one of my favorites within that series. Yes, it’s true that your avatar looks ugly, but then you have these beautiful worlds to explore. Yes, the controls are cumbersome, and yet you put up with them to experience the wonder of this game. Yes, the single player campaign feels tacked on, but that’s because it was never meant to be single player and Cyan (the developer) was basically forced to add it by the publisher (Ubisoft). It’s the world building, the lore, the sense of being in a place you love and need to experience more of it that makes Uru shine.Yes, its a (very) acquired taste, but even now, 16 years later, I just can’t get enough of it.
12. Deus Ex: Human Revolution (PC)
Living up to the original Deus Ex is no easy task. That game’s very own sequel couldn’t even manage it. So, when Human Revolution was announced I was somewhat skeptical, but at the same time intrigued. It was set to be a prequel rather than a follow-on from Invisible War. It was by a whole new team. It needed to be what current gamers expected, while not replicating the Star Wars Ep 1-3 problem of having the prequel look more advanced than the original. Thankfully, Edios pulled it off wonderfully! While not quite up to the original’s lofty heights, Human Revelation still managed to nail the tone, feeling and ambiance of Deux Ex. The story was deep and interesting, the augmentations fun, and the combat much improved on the original. Easily one of the best FPS/stealth/RPG hybrids since 1999.
11. Forza Horizon 3 (XBox One)
I never really considered myself a racing fan…until I played Forza Horizon 2. I played it in store on a demo machine before getting my XBone and enjoyed it so much that it was one of the first games I picked up when I finally bought my console. The mix of arcade-like racing with the open world, but also allowing you to get as technical as you wanted (which, in my case, isn’t very technical at all) felt liberating. And then there is just how beautiful the game is. It looks absolutely gorgeous and the cars feel amazing. I think it was that game that really made me fall in love with the XBox One. So why is Horizon 3 on this list rather than 2? Well, because 3 took everything 2 had and made it even better. Oh, and it’s set in the most beautiful country in the world, my home of Australia! While the map might not be the most accurate (you can drive from Byron Bay to Surfers Paradise in a few minutes, whereas in real life it’d take over an hour on a good run) it’s arguably the most beautiful representation of the country outside of actually being there. And, it’s a cracker of a game!
Entries 10 - 1
10. Ghostbusters: The Video Game (PC)
While there have been a few exceptions, most games that tie into a movie release (or TV series for that matter) are the result of rushed development and poor quality.However, Ghostbusters: The Video Game is one of the few exceptions. Starring the four original Ghostbusters, the game is basically the third move we never (and now, sadly due to the passing of Harrold Ramis, will never) got. Even Dan Akyroyd has stated as much. But not only does it feature the original actors reprising their roles, it is also a bloody good game! It throws you into the world of Ghostbusters with heaps of fan service, wonderful set pieces and the clever, classy humour the films are loved for. But none of this would really matter if the ghost busting wasn’t any fun. Well, rest assured that’s been sorted too. Battles are explosive and frantic, with ghosts, proton streams and flying debris going everywhere. You can feel the ghosts pull against your proton stream and wrangling specters into the ghost trap is hugely satisfying. It’s like extreme supernatural fishing. I could go on and on about how amazing this game is (and I have done) but suffice to say that Ghostbusters: The Video Game proves that movie tie-ins can be as amazing as any triple A title!
9. Shenmue II (XBox One)
It took me 20 years to finally complete the original Shenmue. I was gifted it the year of release but was never able to find those damn bikers at the harbour. However, cut to the HD re-release on XBox One, and finally I saw the end of the first part of Ryo’s search for vengeance. While it was nice to revisit the original game, it was the sequel that truly stood out for me. While Shenmue is constantly praised for its realism, I’ve always felt its reliance on sticking to a real-world scenario (having to pass the time waiting for characters to show up, going to work, etc) was to the game’s detriment. Thankfully, Shenmue II removes much of what makes the original tedious and is all the better for it. Shenmue II, in my opinion, is also a bigger, grander game. From the bustling streets of Wan Chai to the claustrophobic walled city of Kowloon, there is just so much to see. NPCs feel like real characters, not just street dressing, and each environment feels alive. Kowloon was the major standout for me; all of these gigantic buildings filled with rooms you can go in and explore, it’s simply amazing to think this game was made in 2001 when many modern games don’t have as much content or attention to detail. For all the praise the original Shenmue gets, I feel that the sequel is the far better experience, both as a game to play and a game to marvel as the sheer majesty of.
8. Sonic Adventure (Dreamcast)
The Blue Blur’s first true foray into the realm of 3D remains one of his best. The Adventure formula, which lets the player explore semi-open world hub areas, and the amazing speed-based levels that Sonic blasts through were truly mind blowing for the time. Few will ever forget the first time they saw the blue hedgehog being chased by a killer whale during Emerald Coast. The virtual pet-like Chao were lots of run to mess around with, and transferring them to the VMU so you could raise your little mate while away from the console was genius. While some dislike Sonic’s multitude of friends, I really enjoy Tails, Knuckles, Amy and E-102 Gamma’s side stories (Big can totally bugger off though!). It adds an interesting spin on the traditional Sonic gameplay and it’s cool to see the stories from the perspective of other characters. Many will say Sonic Adventure 2 is the better game, and perhaps technically it is, but I much prefer the side stories in the original (can’t stand Tails and Robotnik’s mech sections in SA2) and the lovely run-all-over-the-place open world feel.
7. Streets of Rage 2 (Mega Drive)
I love side scrolling beat ‘em ups, and Street of Rage 2 is one of the best. From the big, beautiful graphics to the varied enemies and the wonderful music, this game has everything. Punches and kicks have weight to them, each character plays incredibly differently and the game is challenging without being so hard that you feel overwhelmed. While some of the bosses can feel cheap (that damn boxer!) the combat is very satisfying and you feel like a badass every time you play. While I do love the original SoR, this sequel takes everything that made the first game great and improves on it. The addition of special moves lets the combat flow much more than the “backup call” of the original game and I find myself returning to it time after time.
6. Doom 2016 (XBox One)
While I’m sure this will upset some Doom purists, I absolutely love the 2016 reboot. Just as big, brash and loud as the original, the advancement in technology allows it to look incredible and be even more gory, if that’s possible. Blasting enemies to then finish them off with a beautifully gruesome execution is pure joy. Bloody to the point of parody and unapologetic for any of it, Doom 2016 is one of my favorite FPS games!
5. Sonic 3 & Knuckles (Mega Drive)
For a while I had Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles as separate entries on this list. However, after some thought I felt it wasn’t the right way to go about things because a) it took away a slot for another deserving game and b) Sega originally planned these to be one huge title, however, due to the space restrictions of cartridges at the time the game had to be split over two releases. So, for the purposes of this list I’m treating Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles as one game. While many claim Sonic 2 to be the best of the original trilogy, for me it’s always been about S3&K. The sheer scope of the game, the wonderful little cut scenes that tell the game’s story, the inventive, original levels and the perfect gameplay make this, for me, the pinnacle of the Mega Drive era Sonic games.
4. Riven: The Sequel to Myst (PC)
When people talk about Myst they tend to focus on the original game. Of course it was hugely influential with its design philosophy still being apparent in newer releases such as The Witness. However, I’ve always felt that Riven was the best of the series. In Myst everything from the storyline to the environments felt like they were there in service of the puzzles, especially on the main island of Myst itself. I mean, a keyboard inside a spaceship? What’s a spaceship doing there anyway? However, with Riven it is clear to see that Cyan really sat down and envisioned the world as a living entity into which the puzzles were designed, rather than the other way around. You step into a world where conflict is already on-going; a would-be dictator is subjecting the native people, a resistance has risen up and have started plans. Unlike many games, it never feels like the world revolves around you. However, the true brilliance of Riven is how well the puzzles are integrated into the game world. Puzzles are more about figuring out how to get machinery working or how to access hidden resistance safe houses than using astrological symbols to enter a code that raises a sailing ship from the depths. The puzzles are all based around the game’s environments; the resistance uses symbols representative of the animals found in the Age of Riven to communicate rather than some arbitrary scratchings. Intricately designed and wonderfully told, Riven is easily the best puzzle game I’ve ever played, and one of the best games, period!
3. Sonic Mania (PC, Xbox One)
Where to start with Sonic Mania? The best reviewed Sonic game in decades, a true love letter to the Mega Drive era, incredible gameplay, beautiful animation and the most inventive and fun bosses the series has ever seen. Oh, and heaps of fan service. The amount of love and care that went into this game shows in every pixel and the Plus DLC makes an amazing game even better. Apparently there are no plans for a Mania 2, but Sega would be absolutely stupid to not have Christian Whitehead and team make another Sonic game, such is the quality of Mania. If you’ve ever need to convince someone of just how cool Sonic can be, show them Sonic Mania!
2. Dragon Age: Origins (PC)
I learned only recently that the PC version of Dragon Age: Origins was released with a heap of bugs. I can say none of them ever affected my enjoyment of the game as it is an absolutely amazing RPG. The only “proper” Western RPG I’d played before this was Neverwinter Nights which I had enjoyed, but Dragon Age was on another level! The character creation, the dialogue options, the combat, the strategy, the world, the lore. All of it I fell in love with. While I don’t profess to be any kind of RPG expert there is no other Western RPG I’ve played that made the impact on me that Bioware’s epic did. While Inquisition may be huge in scope, Origins feels much more like a rewarding, hard-won battle by the game’s end. You really feel like you’ve earned the (fleeting) freedom of Ferelden. In short, Origins hit me hard in the feels, and its always stuck with me because of that.
1. Deus Ex (PC)
Considered by many as the greatest PC game ever made, and with good reason, Deus Ex won Game of the Year from pretty much every single gaming publication, both on-line and off, when it was released in 2000. Expertly combining FPS and stealth, the only comparison it had at the time was the Theif and System Shock series. The freedom offered players in regards to how they wanted to tackle any given situation was, for the time, unheard of. Go in guns blazing or hack a computer and turn the security system on the enemy. Or, if you prefer, activate your cloaking device or find a ventilation shaft and slink into the enemy compound, grab the info you need and slip out again with no one being any the wiser. There is so much to Deus Ex that I am literally still discovering things about it to this day despite having played through it several times (who knew pepper spray could interfere with laser alarm systems?). If you’ve not played the original Deus Ex you are missing out on one of the best, most important gaming experiences of the 2000s.